With the injury to Jake Locker in their win over the Jets this past weekend, the Tennessee Titans need to explore the possibility of trading for exiled Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman, as the Bucs don’t appear to be willing to release him and let him go for nothing. It’d be a low-risk move for the Titans that could help them to continue their impressive start to the season and keep their playoff hopes alive in a wide-open AFC, at least until Locker can get back on the field.
Locker is projected to be out four to eight weeks, but because it’s a hip injury, the Titans would be better off preparing for him to miss eight weeks, if not longer. Ryan Fitzpatrick may have seemed like a nice veteran to back up Locker at the beginning of the season, but he may not be the kind of quarterback the Titans have to rely on over an eight-week period. He doesn’t have a big arm, he’s not that mobile, and he doesn’t have a great track record over his career. There are reasons why Fitzpatrick has a losing record as a starter, and why he couldn’t find a job as a starter this season after the Bills released him. Tennessee needs to at least consider alternatives at quarterback who are better than Fitzpatrick, and Freeman fits that description.
The Titans are off to a surprising 3-1 start this season, but their success in September hasn’t been a fluke. Tennessee has been one of the top defensive teams in the NFL through the first month of the season, and that side of the ball has fueled their early-season success. Offensively, they’ve gotten by with a solid but unspectacular running game and mistake-free play from Locker, who has started to turn the corner in his third NFL season before getting derailed by this latest injury. Locker has gotten a lot of help this season from a solid receiving trio of Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, and Delanie Walker, while the Titans could also get significant contributions from Kenny Britt and rookie Justin Hunter as the season moves forward.
Freeman would give the Titans a quarterback with a big arm that could get the ball into the hands into a group of receivers with plenty of talent and potential. With a quarterback like Freeman that has some mobility and that can throw the ball downfield, the Titans can continue to utilize their receivers and score enough points to complement their strong defense. There’s no denying that Freeman has fallen on hard times and hasn’t played well this season, but he has plenty of talent. It’s possible that all Freeman needs is a change of scenery to help him turn things around after his well-publicized dispute with Tampa head coach Greg Schiano. Going to a team that wants him and that’s in position to make a postseason run could help to re-focus and re-invigorate Freeman.
Moreover, Freeman would come cheap and would offer little risk. If the Buccaneers trade him, the Titans wouldn’t have to give up anything more than a late-round draft pick, and because he’s a free agent after this season, the Titans wouldn’t have to make any long-term commitment to Freeman; it’d simply be a way for Freeman to showcase himself for other teams while helping the Titans survive the injury to Locker. It would be a short-term arrangement that could end up being beneficial for both sides.
Bringing in Freeman wouldn’t exactly be playing it safe, but if the Titans want to remain in contention until Locker gets back, which may not happen until December, they may have to take a chance on Freeman. Fitzpatrick’s track record isn’t any better than Freeman’s, but at least with Freeman they’d have a quarterback with loads of talent who’d be excited to get out of Tampa Bay and have a chance to play heading into free agency this offseason. If the Titans don’t want to waste a promising start to the season, they should at least consider trading for Freeman to help them win a few games and stay relevant in the AFC until Locker can return from injury.
In a surprising, and somewhat controversial move, last week the Green Bay Packers cut middle linebacker Desmond Bishop. As disheartening as it is for Bishop to get cut by the Packers, especially after missing all of last season with an injury, it provides him with a great opportunity. Before his injury last season, Bishop was a star on the rise, and as long as he’s healthy he should be able to regain the form he had during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and continue to be a productive NFL linebacker.
He now has the chance to choose where he would like to play, and give whatever team he signs with a significant roster upgrade with training camp quickly approaching. Rumor has it that Bishop has narrowed his choices down to the Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, and New York Giants. But which team should he choose? Let’s take a look at how he would fit into each of these three teams, as well as how each team fits Bishop.
Chiefs – If Bishop were to go to Kansas City, he would be the cherry on top of an already stacked corps of linebackers. The Chiefs may have only won two games last year, but they sent three linebackers to the Pro Bowl, all of whom return this season. Bishop would slot in right next to Derrick Johnson, as the Chief’s second inside linebacker. Bishop and Johnson could form a powerful tandem inside, while Justin Houston and Tamba Hali could be unleashed as ferocious pass rushers on the outside. Adding Bishop would undoubtedly give Kansas City the best group of linebackers in the NFL, if they don’t already. Of course, if he wants to win right away, Bishop will have to think twice about the Chiefs. After just two wins last year, there’s a lot of work to do in Kansas City to make the Chiefs competitive, and a near insurmountable distance between them and the Denver Broncos, the obvious favorite in the AFC West.
Vikings – The obvious benefit of going to Minnesota would be that Bishop would get to face Green Bay, the team that just cut him, twice a year. Revenge can be a great motivator, and after the manner in which he was let go, revenge could certainly be on Bishop’s mind. It also helps that the Vikings won 10 games last year, and aren’t too far from being able to compete with the Packers for the NFC North title. But a move to Minnesota could get complicated for Bishop, as he would have to adjust to a 4-3 scheme, and the team would have to decide between him and Erin Henderson who would play middle linebacker and who would play outside. There’s a chance he would have to make the switch to outside linebacker, and if Bishop has any trepidation about that switch he would have to weigh it against being able to stay in the NFC North and have a shot at taking down the team that just cut him.
Giants – Of the three teams he’s considering, the Giants probably need Bishop the most. New York was a mess at linebacker last year (actually, their entire defense was a mess), and they’ve spent the offseason trying to overhaul that position. Signing Bishop, especially at this stage in the offseason, would be an incredible addition for the Giants. He could step in right away, man the middle, and in theory be surrounded by capable pass rushers that can get to the quarterback. If the Bishop of 2010 and 2011 shows up in New York this season, it would change the look of the Giant’s defense and give them the kind of boost they need to bounce back in 2013 and once again become a Super Bowl contender. For Bishop, going to the Giants might be his best chance to play for a contender this season, and if the Giants do content, Bishop would be a big part of that.
Verdict – Bishop has three distinct choices. He can go to Kansas City and put the finishing touches on a superior group of linebackers, while hoping he can help turn the team completely around; he can go to Minnesota and help to topple the team that just cut him; or he can go to New York and be a key piece on a team that is no stranger to playing in Super Bowls.
For Bishop, going to the Giants is the smartest move to make. They need him the most, and if things fall right there’s a chance he could be playing deep into the postseason. Kansas City and Minnesota would be good fits too, and there may not be a wrong decision among the three candidates, but if Bishop’s ultimate goal is to win games and chase after another Super Bowl ring, then the best choice for him to make would be to sign with the Giants.
If the Giants aren’t considered the frontrunner for Vonta Leach’s services yet, it’s not for a lack of effort.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the NYDailyNews, the Giants are rumoured to be increasing their offer to Leach as a last-ditch effort to provide some insurance at fullback. The move is prompted by the uncertainty surrounding their current fullback, Henry Hynoski, and his recovery from knee surgery. The knee injury that wound up leading to surgery was suffered in just the first spring practice on May 22nd.
Leach seemed all but a given to sign with the Miami Dolphins following his visit to their facilities earlier in the week, but all that turned out to be much ado about nothing as he left South Beach without a contract. The two sides are still in talks, and they are apparently of the positive variety. It wouldn’t be surprising if Leach still wound up signing with the Dolphins.
Leach has also stated his desire to finish his career where it started with the Houston Texans, but that seems highly unlikely at this point. For starters, the Texans already have a serviceable fullback in Greg Jones, who is also a little more proficient in the receiving game. Secondly, they have very little in the way of cap space.
All the speculation won’t last much longer. Leach said following his release from the Baltimore Ravens that he would decide his new team within two weeks, and time is running out.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
It’s not going to leave anyone on pins and needles, but Vonta Leach has given us a timeline to mull over nonetheless.
According to The Daily Reflector, Leach is being pursued by about seven teams. Fullbacks don’t generally get this much attraction when they hit the market, but if anyone is deserving of this exception, surely it’s Vonta Leach. In his three years with the Baltimore Ravens Leach was on the field for 1,026 of a possible 2,171 offensive; which is quite the feat in a league that seems intent on phasing out his position.
Leach is coming off arguably the best season of his nine year career. He set a career high in receptions with 21 and set the second highest marks of his career in rushing yards (32) and receiving yards (143). It’s not the yardage where Leach makes hay though.
In his only two seasons with the Ravens, his last club that had cut him just a week earlier, he is credited with playing an instrumental role in shaping the hard nosed and physical brand of football that helped get them to last year’s Super Bowl. As a lead blocker he is second to none in the league and his three Pro-Bowl and All-Pro nods serve as evidence.
Leach has stated that his first choice in free agency would be a return to the Houston Texans, where he played from 2006-10 and earned his first All-Pro nod in 2010. Leach has already made a visit to the Miami Dolphins facility and the New York Giants have also inquired about Leach. Can’t imagine why any team with a need at fullback wouldn’t.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
Well, we finally have some certainty in regard to Desmond Bishop’s future with the Green Bay Packers.
After struggling to find any interest in the veteran linebacker on the trade market, the Packers released the seven year veteran at around noon PST. There was some talk about the possibility of the Packers restructuring Bishop’s contract to keep him with the team, but no such agreement between the player and club could be agreed upon.
Bishop, who missed the entire 2012 season following hamstring surgery in August, was made expendable by the play of Brad Jones in his absence. By all counts Jones exceeded expectations, and he’s been rewarded justly with an opportunity to prove it wasn’t a fluke with what used to be Bishop’s starting job next season. Having three quality starting interior linebackers in a 3-4 defense is a luxury the Packers simply could not justify, and with Jones, Bishop and A.J. Hawk all in tow, it’s a problem - sort of - that they weren’t too keen on having.
The cutting of Bishop will save the Packers nearly $4M against the cap this season, but will carry dead cap implications going as far as the 2014 season, when they will lose $800,000 against the cap.
Rumours are swirling - as they always do - wildly about where Bishop will land. Chris Wesseling of NFL.com thinks that either the Kansas City Chiefs or Oakland Raiders make sense as potential destinations; as do I. That being said, the veteran linebacker already has a meeting scheduled for today with the Packers divisional rivals in Minnesota, the Vikings. They make sense as a potential destination, based solely on their need for a starting caliber middle linebacker. Word out of OTA’s was that Erin Henderson, who had played as a will linebacker to this point in his career, was going to start in the mike spot, but they can avoid this positional switch if their meeting with Bishop is of the productive variety. Then again, Bishop isn’t exactly what I’d call the picture-perfect fit either. The Vikings employ a Tampa 2 version of the 4-3 defense, which is considerably different from the 3-4 scheme he’s been in his entire career in Green Bay.
With all this in mind and all the food for thought that this release provides, there is some serious hubris to be found in all this. Remember when Bishop saw himself as a contender for defensive player of the year? Yeah, not happening in Green Bay.
Don’t go writing off Kellen Winslow’s career just yet. Oh, and the same goes for Mike Sims-Walker as well.
The offensively needy New York Jets have extended tryouts to the tight end and receiver duo for next weeks minicamps. For Winslow this will be his first time working with an NFL club since his short and uneventful tenure with the Patriots last season. He appeared in one game, a week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and had one catch for 12 yards. Winslow eventually asked to be released and his wish granted by the club.
For Sims-Walker this will be his first action with an NFL club since the 2011 season, when appeared in two games for the Jacksonville Jaguars. It wasn’t the best of seasons, as Sims-Walker would only catch one of the six balls thrown his way for 11 yards.
If Winslow’s knee is as healthy as he thinks it is, he should be a shoo-in for the starting job at tight end. The Jets are particularly needy at this position following the departure of Mark Sanchez’s comfort blanket Dustin Keller to the divisional foe Miami Dolphins. They currently have Jeff Cumberland pegged as the starting tight end; which is a serious roster concern, even on a team that’s trying to make Mark Sanchez work.
It’s pretty simple for Winslow. Prove your healthy, sign and sky-rocket up the depth chart. For Sims-Walker, it’s a bit more of an uphill battle. He didn’t prove much during his short stay in the NFL and his injury concerns might even trump those of Winslow.
The Jets don’t have a lot going for them, but you have to give credit where credit is due. This club is getting creative. Should Winslow’s knee last the tryout, they may have found one of the better players remaining in the bargain bin. And no one will be happier about it than Mark Sanchez. Not sure if that’s a good thing, but it’s something.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
With so many rumors swirling around these days with regard to free agent “quarterback” Tim Tebow, it’s tough to know what’s true and what’s not. Some reports coming from within Tebow’s own camp claim that his NFL career is over, while other reports dispute that claim. Undoubtedly, there’s a large contingent of NFL fans that are excited at the possibility of the Tebow era being over, but does anybody really expect Tebow to give up so quickly and so easily on his NFL career.
As a person and a football player, Tebow is as stubborn as they get. Even going back to his days in high school and college, people told Tebow that he wasn’t good enough to be a quarterback in college, that he couldn’t win a national championship or a Heisman trophy in college, and that he couldn’t be a first round NFL draft pick, but Tebow was always too stubborn to listen and ultimately accomplished all of those things against all odds. Now with the reports that people within his own camp believe that his NFL career is over, it stands to reason that once again Tebow will be too stubborn to listen. Tebow’s stubbornness mixed with his great work ethic means that he likely won’t be giving up anytime soon and will do everything he can to keep his career alive.
Although the Jets released him following the draft and the Broncos traded him away last offseason, in Tebow’s mind there are still 30 possible destinations for him, and he won’t even consider giving up on a future in the NFL until all 30 options have been exhausted. Tebow has too much stubbornness and too much belief in himself to think that one of those 30 teams won’t be willing to give him a chance, and in Tebow’s mind no matter what other quarterbacks he has as competition, he’ll be able to prove that he deserves to be the starter as long as he gets a chance; he’s simply too stubborn to believe anything different.
Ironically, that stubbornness may actually be the thing that’s delaying his return to an NFL roster, and it may actually be the thing that ultimately keeps him out of the league for good. Tebow is too stubborn to admit that he’s not an NFL caliber quarterback and too stubborn to open up to the possibility of switching positions. If he let it be known to teams that he would be willing to play a position outside of quarterback, Tebow could find himself on an NFL roster rather quickly, as he has the toughness, physicality, and athleticism that can be useful to NFL teams in some capacity. Tebow isn’t likely to give up that stubbornness now, but in his defense, that stubbornness has helped him to accomplish some incredible and improbable feats during the course of his football career, so why change now?
Even though at the moment it appears as if Tebow’s NFL career may be over, and there are even reports saying just that, it’s still too early to make that determination. Tebow has been stubborn throughout his football career, and while his NFL prospects look bleak, especially if he intends to stay at the quarterback position, he’s too stubborn to give up just yet, as he continues to wait for just one team out there to give him a chance. If you think Tebow’s NFL career is over, think again, because there’s no way he’s going away that easily.
For the first time since he became a free agent in March, there is finally something to report on Richard Seymour. According to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Seymour is getting considerable interest from the Atlanta Falcons, who could definitely use some help on the defensive line.
In the earlier stages of free agency Seymour was rumoured to only be interested in playing if he found a financially satisfying contract. Over two months after the beginning of free agency and about a month after the draft, there isn’t much in the way of cap space to spend on Seymour. Especially where the Falcons are concerned.
The Falcons currently have somewhere in the neighbourhood of $2M in cap space, but will receive an extra $4.5M on June 1st courtesy of Tyson Clabo coming off the books. How much of this money the Falcons will be willing to spend on Seymour and how much it will take to bring Seymour to town have yet to be determined, but the two sides will have about $6.5M to work with in negotiations.
If the cash-money isn’t to Seymour’s liking, the Falcons also have the benefit of being located in Atlanta. For Seymour a signing in Atlanta would be like a return trip home for the final stages of his career. His collegiate playing career was spent at the University of Georgia, and now his adopted son has committed to play there in 2013. Whatever the Falcons might lack in dollars, they could easily make up for in sentimental value.
It is also worth noting that the Falcons offer the one thing that most veterans (but apparently not Charles Woodson) are looking for: a chance to compete for a Super Bowl. The Falcons have retooled on offense and defense, and figure to improve upon last season where they came within a game of the Super Bowl. Assuming he gets that one last ring to top off his career, he would feature a hand full (thumb not included) and that in itself should be enough to bring him in tow.
There appears to be little if any urgency on either side to get this deal done, but that is just a bi-product of the circumstances each side is under. Seymour, at the age of 33 and having come off an injury riddled season, will probably sign as late into the offseason as he can get away with. He’s also apparently in very good shape financially, and could still just decide to retire. As for the Falcons, they don’t have the financial means (at least where the salary cap is concerned) to sign Seymour until, at the very earliest, June 1st. Could be a while before anything consummates between these two clubs, but some news is better than none.
You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV
The New York Jets have agreed to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This move has been in the making for a long time now, but all parties involved wanted to get a little closer to the NFL Draft before pulling the trigger.
According to reports, the deal will be made official at some point between Sunday and Monday.
Earlier today, Adam Schefter of ESPN announced that the Jets had granted Revis permission to speak with Tampa Bay, as well as to conduct a physical.
The 27-year-old superstar is coming off a torn ACL, and while all involved seem to insist that his recovery is going according to plan, the Bucs are being understandably cautious given what they’re parting with. Although this hasn’t been confirmed yet, the Buccaneers will likely give up their first and second round picks in order to shore up a position that they’ve desperately been trying to address for several years now.
Late Sunday morning, Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports reported that the deal was nearly complete. In addition to having come to terms with New York, the Buccaneers also reportedly have already finalized the framework for a contract extension with Revis himself.
It is unlikely that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to win the Super Bowl this year. Bucs fans, coaches, players, and the front office surely think they are building a team that will contend in a few years, but it would be highly unrealistic to think 2013 is the season.
On Friday ProFootballTalk mentioned that Mark Sanchez's name had been included in some of the Darrelle Revis trade rumors. Over the weekend it emerged the Tampa Bay isn't interested in Sanchez. But, why not?
The Bucs want to acquire Revis from the Jets. New York would like to get out from under the guaranteed $8.25 million that Sanchez is owed this year. While Sanchez might not be an upgrade over Josh Freeman, what difference does it make?
In order to acquire Revis, a player that can improve the Buccaneers league worst pass defense, Tampa Bay is going to have to give up something. Draft picks are the most likely compensation, and good franchises hoard picks because it is their ticket to acquiring young, inexpensive talent that can become the nucleus of a team on the rise. If the alternative to yielding picks is picking up short term salary, and you aren't going to win big this year anyway, isn't that a better option?
Lets assume for a minute that every dollar of the $8.25 million the Bucs could use on something other than Sanchez is well spent. They draft well, avoid injuries, Josh Freeman is consistently good, and everything falls into place. How many games do they improve on their 7-9 mark from last season? Do they win a division with Atlanta, New Orleans, and Carolina in it? Do they have the talent to beat San Francisco or Green Bay in the playoffs?
If you don't think the money Sanchez is going to get for one year, and one year only before you can release him without penalty, is going to make the Bucs a champion, bite the bullet and save some of your draft choices. In fact, will the Jets send Tampa Bay a pick if the Bucs take Tim Tebow and the $2.58 million he is owed for one year too?
Good franchises recognize where they are now and what the future may hold. Having draft picks and cap flexibility down the road is the best way for a team with young talent to ensure that they continue to improve. Biting the bullet now so that you are fully stocked in the future is a decision that takes guts. No guts, no glory. Sometimes guts look like Mark Sanchez.